San Antonio Express News wrote:Buck Harvey: Saints to San Antonio? Best, worst in McCombs
Web Posted: 04/14/2005 12:00 AM CDT
San Antonio Express-News
Red McCombs will sell the Vikings? Buy the Saints? Then move the Saints to San Antonio?
"Preposterous," McCombs said Wednesday.
Preposterous for a number of reasons. After all, if McCombs wanted to move a team to San Antonio, he already has one. Los Angeles still sits as relocation gold. And then there's San Antonio.
Does the mood exist here to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into either the Alamodome or a new stadium?
But there's another reason this latest NFL-to-San Antonio scenario, as suggested by a St. Paul, Minn., newspaper this week, will never happen.
And the state of Minnesota should know better than anyone.
After all, this spring another Minnesota columnist wrote: "Red, you are a blight on the Minnesota sports scene. You're the worst owner ever, Norm Green included."
Norm Green? He merely moved the Minnesota North Stars to Dallas in 1993.
McCombs somehow has become worse. He hasn't always said the right things, and an example came this off-season. After he traded Randy Moss, McCombs added he almost fired his coach, Mike Tice, instead.
Was it necessary to undercut his locker-room leader?
But what really bothers Minnesotans is McCombs' fiscal sense. He wanted them to spend money on him — for a new stadium — and he didn't always spend money on the Vikings.
Tice was a bargain choice. The Vikings have operated far under the salary cap. And when McCombs has splurged — as he did this winter for a half-dozen free agents — he did so with an angle. The salaries are deferred until the summer, which is when McCombs hopes to have sold the franchise.
San Antonio knows the mix. The Spurs reached new heights when McCombs took over the franchise in the late '80s, and McCombs sold them with the same dilemma the Vikings face now. A new facility appeared unlikely.
McCombs operated on the cheap then, too. He'd pay David Robinson what was necessary, but there was another side. Spurs assistant coaches, for example, were told to come by his dealership for a deal. When they did, they found nothing more than the usual used-car negotiations.
That said, McCombs made the Spurs viable. He found a holding pen in the dome, and he helped keep the franchise here. He was a blessing, not a blight.
And South Texans aren't the only ones who saw him this way. The Denver Post, running a best-worst list a few years ago, named McCombs one of city's best sports owners ever because of what he did for the Nuggets.
Maybe it's the nature of NBA venues such as Denver or San Antonio. Everyone knows there are economic obstacles in pro basketball, whereas the NFL is a money machine.
But the truth is this: McCombs has fielded winners everywhere he's been, and he's always fielded profit, too.
Even today, some think the moves the Vikings made in the off-season were the best in the league. And McCombs' cut from a sale, too, will be equally successful.
He bought the Vikings for $246 million in 1998, and, according to reports, had to put up about $200 million. The price included $40 million in debt, as well as a food service company. McCombs later sold that for $27 million.
Now McCombs is waiting to see if the NFL will approve the sale of the team to Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler for $625 million. Even if the deal falls through, McCombs says he has two other parties ready to buy.
In many ways he doesn't want to sell. He'd always wanted to own an NFL team, and he still enjoys it.
This week he went over various draft options with Tice and the Vikings' director of college scouting, Scott Studwell. And after three hours Studwell turned to McCombs and said, "It doesn't sound like you're selling."
That's McCombs. "I would love to stay in the NFL, but it had to be with a new stadium," he said. "We don't have one. I'm not tired of sports. It makes my juices flow."
That's why he says he could see himself being involved again someday in something else. "I haven't lost my appetite at all."
But buying the Saints? At inflationary prices he just set? And moving them to a mid-sized city without a new-age stadium?
There's actually been talk of the Saints moving for a while now...one rumor I even heard was to Mississipi, I don't have a link though. I doubt anything will really happen. But if the Saints can't get a stadium deal in New Orleans...who knows.